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Streetcar Planned for Downtown Not Included in Latest Round of Federal Funding

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An example of a streetcar from Portland | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist

An example of a streetcar from Portland | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist
53 transit projects around the country have been selected to receive federal money, the Federal Transit Administration announced today. Four projects in California, including one in Orange County, were chosen, but the one within Los Angeles was not.

Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. (LASI) earlier this year submitted an application to compete for Urban Circulator/Bus and Bus Livability funds. If chosen, the $100 million to $125 million project would have received nearly $25 million.

"I feel like the guy at the dance who didn't get picked," joked LASI Executive Director Dennis Allen. Although disappointed, he said submitting the application was a positive step. "It helped us because it elevated us in the federal govenment's eye... We put in a very solid application."

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Six urban circulator proposals were awarded a total of $130 million. They were bus priority lanes in Chicago and streetcars in St. Louis, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Fort Worth and Dallas. Another $163 million went to bus livability projects, including $5 million for a regional intermodal transit center in Anaheim that will become an Orange County transit hub for buses and high speed rail.

"Not getting this doesn't really derail us too much from our long term goals... We had never planned for it," Allen explained. He said that the grant came up relatively fast so they just applied to see what happened. "I really just think it boiled down to that we didn't we have our private local funding in place. If it would've happened six months from now or a year from now, we'd be a lot more competitive" in the grant process.

Addressing that private sector funding, a trio of Los Angeles heavyweights -- Eli Broad, Rick Caruso and Tim Lieweke -- will host a fundraiser for the non-profit on September 30th. LASI also plans to apply for other federal grants, including a possible second round of federal grants for urban circulators.

Currently, the project is about to start its environmental review of the project, which has three route alternatives that would would spread across 3.5 to 4 miles in downtown Los Angeles. Public scoping meetings are expected to be scheduled within the next nine months.